Rise in workplace safety inspections for Euro 2012 tournament
Poland’s National Labour Inspectorate carried out more work safety and working conditions inspections in 2011 than in 2010, partly as a result of a monitoring project put in place to supervise the building of infrastructure for the Euro 2012 football tournament. The Chief Labour Inspector reports that more work was stopped and more fines imposed because of safety infringements, and that bigger companies helped raise the standard of work among smaller subcontractors.
Long-term safety monitoring plan
Since 2010, the National Labour Inspectorate (NLI) has had a special monitoring plan in place to supervise building projects connected with the Euro 2012 UEFA football championship held in Poland and Ukraine in June 2012. However, in some cases initiatives aimed at preventing possible violations of work safety regulations started back in 2008.
The monitoring was mainly concerned with the building of infrastructure such as stadiums and roads, and the renovation of airports and train stations. There were around 100 of these work projects. To emphasise the importance of safety issues while they were underway, the NLI published information about the development of works and controls of working conditions on its website.
It appears that inspectors were in contact with investors and contractors involved with the Euro 2012 project from the very beginning. This is evidenced by data in section four of the Chief Labour Inspector’s 2010 annual report, ‘Results of the activities included in the long-term plan for 2010–2012’ (in Polish, 335Kb PDF), in a further report entitled ‘Report of the Chief Labour Inspector on the [Euro 2012] host activities of the National Labour Inspectorate in 2011’ (in Polish, 17.7Mb PDF) and on the NLI’s website. Regular meetings were organised where information flow, good practice and the causes of accidents were discussed, among other subjects.
Inspections also resulted in preventative measures being implemented, such as the creation of rules for construction sites, the appointment of coordinators for health and safety, and the development of a catalogue of good practice. This document was prepared on the basis of measures taken during the building of the National Stadium in 2009 and it was distributed to other construction sites.
Controls in 2010 and 2011
In 2011, the NLI conducted 262 inspections of work safety and 345 of working conditions (607 in total) in 2011, compared with 175 and 245 respectively (420 in total) in 2010. Decisions were issued on 1,105 projects, compared with 929 in 2010, and 88 of these resulted in the suspension of works, compared with 45 in 2010. In 57 cases, employees were delegated to other tasks in 2011, compared with 33 in 2011.
In addition, 83 people in charge of work safety were given mandatory fines in 2011, compared with 68 in 2010. There was also an increase in the number of employees investigated over the legality of their employment. During special investigations conducted at selected projects, 840 in 2011 compared to 300 in 2010, it was determined that 26 people were working without any form of contract. The figure was 14 in 2010.
It should be emphasised that it is difficult to compare these differences in relative terms. By relating the data to the overall number of controls in years 2010 and 2011, it can be said that on average each investigation in 2010 generated more decisions than in 2011 (approximately 2.21 to 1.82). However, proportional to the number of controls, more works were suspended in 2011 and more employees were delegated to other tasks.
The types of infringements varied in 2010 and in 2011 (see Figures 1 and 2) which may reflect different stages of work at construction sites or different priorities of the NLI’s controls.
Figure 1: Types of infringement by number of employees affected (2010)
Source: Author’s computations based on NLI data
Figure 2: Types of infringement by number of employees affected (2011)
Source: Author’s computations based on NLI data
The main reason for infringements, both in 2010 and 2011, was considered to be a disregard for the work safety among middle-ranking employees such as foremen and administrators of works. This manifested itself, according to the reports, in a tolerance for deviations from the rules and a lack of proper preparation to perform jobs.
An interesting conclusion has been drawn in both NLI reports about the positive influence of bigger companies on smaller ones in raising work standards. The NLI website highlights examples that include the introduction of rules by contractors and applied to the whole construction site, including subcontractors. It also gives examples of the employment of work safety specialists to supervise subcontractors, and the cancellation of agreements with sub-contractors for not maintaining site standards.
The reports also emphasise the impact of good practice on other big investments in Poland which emerged during building projects linked to the Euro 2012 tournament. The most important improvements seen on construction sites include better cooperation between the inspectors and the contractors, more frequent consultations on work safety matters with inspectors, and the hiring of work safety coordinators.
NLI (2010), IV: Wyniki działań ujętych w planie długo falowym na lata 2010–2012 (335Kb PDF) [Annual Report of the National Labour Inspectorate 2010, Section 4: Results of the activities included in the long-term plan for 2010–2012; first phase], Warsaw.
NLI (2011), Głównego Inspektora Pracy z działalności Państwowej Inspekcji Pracy w 2011 roku (in Polish, 17.7Mb PDF) [Report of the Chief Labour Inspector’s on the [Euro 2012] host activities of the National Labour Inspectorate in 2011], Warsaw.
Marianna Zieleńska, Institute of Public Affairs, ISP